Skip to main content Accessibility help

Spatial variation of post-dispersal seed removal by rodents in highland microhabitats of Spain and Switzerland

  • Juan Luis García-Castaño (a1), Johannes Kollmann (a2) and Pedro Jordano (a1)


Few data are available and little is known about spatial variation in post-dispersal seed removal at different levels throughout the geographic range of a plant species. Here, we compare post-dispersal seed removal by rodents within and among sites in two distinct regions, the south-eastern Spanish Mediterranean highlands and the Swiss Jura. Seed removal was assessed experimentally for four fleshy-fruited species (Berberis vulgaris, Crataegus monogyna, Rosa spp. and Taxus baccata) in heterogeneous sites with distinct microhabitats. A factorial general linear model (GLM) analysis was used to evaluate the relative influence of species-specific seed traits on removal at three spatial levels (microhabitat, site and region). In both highland ecosystems, live trapping revealed that rodents were the main seed removers: Apodemus sylvaticus was observed in both regions, whereas A. flavicollis and Clethrionomys glareolus occurred only at the Swiss sites. There was a significant difference in seed removal between regions, and the preferences of the rodents varied among plant species and microhabitats. Variation in rodent presence explained some differences in seed removal between regions and among microhabitats. Finally, the effect of rodent presence on seed removal differs due to both regional and microhabitat effects.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence: Fax: +34 954557059 Email:
Present address: Departamento de Biología Vegetal y Ecología, Universidad de Sevilla, Apdo-1095, 41080 Sevilla, Spain


Hide All
Abramsky, Z. (1983) Experiments on seed predation by rodents and ants in the Israeli desert. Oecologia 57, 328332.
Alcántara, J.M., Rey, P.J., Sánchez-Lafuente, A.M. and Valera, F. (2000) Early effects of rodent post-dispersal seed predation on the outcome of the plant-seed disperser interaction. Oikos 88, 362370.
Benkman, C.W., Parchman, T.L., Favis, A. and Siepielski, A.M. (2003) Reciprocal selection causes a coevolutionary arms race between crossbills and lodgepole pine. American Naturalist 162, 182194.
Blaney, C.S. and Kotanen, P.M. (2001) Post-dispersal losses to seed predators: an experimental comparison of native and exotic old field plants. Canadian Journal of Botany 79, 284292.
Castien, E. Gosálbez J. (1996) Diet of Clethrionomys glareolus in the western Pyrenees (north Iberian Peninsula). Folia Zoologica 45, 137144.
Castroviejo, S., Laínz, M., López González, G., Monserrat, P., Muñoz Garmendia, F., Paiva, J. and Villar, L. 1986 1990 Flora iberica: Plantas vasculares de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. Volumes I and II. Madrid Real Jardín Botánico (CSIC).
Cromar, H.E., Murphy, S.D. and Swanton, C.J. (1999) Influence of tillage and crop residue on post-dispersal predation of weed seeds. Weed Science 47, 184194.
Davidson, D.W. (1993) The effects of herbivory and granivory on terrestrial plant succession. Oikos 68, 2335.
Díaz, I., Papic, C. and Armesto, J.J. (1999) An assessment of post-dispersal seed predation in temperate rain forest fragments in Chiloé Island, Chile. Oikos 87, 228238.
Fedriani, J.M., Rey, P.J., Garrido, J.L., Guitián, J., Herrera, C.M., Medrano, M., Sánchez-Lafuente, A.M., Cerdá, X. (2004) Geographical variation in the potential of mice to constrain an ant-seed dispersal mutualism. Oikos 105, 181191.
García-Castaño, J.L. (2001) Consecuencias demográficas de la dispersión de semillas por aves y mamíferos frugívoros en la vegetación Mediterránea de montaña. PhD thesis, University of Seville.
Gryj, E.O., Domínguez, C.A. (1996) Fruit removal and post-dispersal survivorship in the tropical dry forest shrub Erythroxylum havanense: ecological and evolutionary implications. Oecologia 108, 368374.
Gurnell, J. and Little, J. (1992) The influence of trap residual odour on catching woodland rodents. Animal Behaviour 43, 623632.
Hansson, L. (1985) The food of bank voles, woodmice and yellow-necked mice. Symposia of the Zoological Society of London 55, 141168.
Hay, M.E. and Fuller, P.J. (1981) Seed escape from heteromyid rodents: the importance of microhabitat and seed preference. Ecology 62, 13951399.
Herrera, C.M. (1987) Vertebrate-dispersed plants of the Iberian Peninsula: a study of fruit characteristics. Ecological Monographs 57, 305331.
Heske, E.J., Brown, J.H. and Guo, Q. (1993) Effects of kangaroo rat exclusion on vegetation structure and plant species diversity in the Chihuahuan Desert. Oecologia 95, 520524.
Holl, K.D. and Lulow, M.E. (1997) Effects of species, habitat, and distance from edge on post-dispersal seed predation in a tropical rainforest. Biotropica 29, 459468.
Hulme, P.E. (1997) Post-dispersal seed predation and the establishment of vertebrate dispersed plants in Mediterranean scrublands. Oecologia 111, 9198.
Hulme, P.E. (1998) Post-dispersal seed predation: consequences for plant demography and evolution. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 1, 3246.
Hulme, P.E. (2002) Seed-eaters: seed dispersal, destruction and demography. pp. 257273. in Levey, D.J.;, Silva, W.R.;, Galetti, M. (Eds) Seed dispersal and frugivory: Ecology, evolution and conservation. Wallingford, CABI Publishing.
Hulme, P.E. and Benkman, C.W. (2002) Granivory. pp. 132154. in Herrera, C.M., Pellmyr, O. (Eds) Plant–animal interactions. An evolutionary approach, Oxford, Blackwell Science.
Hulme, P.E. and Kollmann, J. (2005) Seed predator guilds, spatial variation in post-dispersal seed predation and potential effects on plant demography – a temperate perspective. pp. 930. in Forget, P.M;, Lambert, J.E.;, Hulme, P.E., Vander Wall, S.B. (Eds) Seed fate: Predation, dispersal and seedling establishment. Wallingford, CABI Publishing.
Hyatt, L.A., Rosenberg, M.S., Howard, T.G., Bole, G., Fang, W., Anastasia, J., Brown, K., Grella, R., Hinman, K., Kurdziel, J.P. and Gurevitch, J. (2003) The distance dependence prediction of the Janzen–Connell hypothesis: a meta-analysis. Oikos 103, 590602.
Jensen, S.P. (1993) Temporal changes in food preferences of wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus L.). Oecologia 94, 7682.
Jordano, P. (1995) Frugivore-mediated selection on fruit and seed size: birds and St. Lucie's cherry. Prunus mahaleb. Ecology 76, 26272639.
Jordano, P. and Schupp, E.W. (2000) Seed disperser effectiveness: the quantity component and patterns of seed rain for Prunus mahaleb. Ecological Monographs 70, 591615.
Kelrick, M.I., Macmahon, J.A., Parmenter, R.R. and Sisson, D.V. (1986) Native seed preferences of shrub-steppe rodents, birds and ants: the relationship of seed attributes and seed use. Oecologia 68, 327337.
Kirchhofer, W. (1982) Klimaatlas der Schweiz. Wabern Bundesamt für Landestopographie
Kollmann, J. (1995) Regeneration window for fleshy-fruited plants during scrub development on abandoned grassland. Écoscience 2, 213222.
Kollmann, J. (2000) Dispersal of fleshy-fruited species: a matter of spatial scale?. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 3, 2951.
Kollmann, J. and Buschor, M. (2003) Edges effects on seed predation by rodents in deciduous forests of northern Switzerland. Plant Ecology 164, 249261.
Kollmann, J. and Pflugshaupt, K. (2001) Flower and fruit characteristics in small and isolated populations of a fleshy-fruited shrub. Plant Biology 3, 6271.
Kollmann, J. and Pflugshaupt, K. (2005) Population structure of a fleshy-fruited species at its range edge - the case of Prunus mahaleb L. in northern Switzerland. Botanica Helvetica 115, 4961.
Kollmann, J., Coomes, D.A. and White, S.M. (1998) Consistencies in post-dispersal seed predation of temperate fleshy-fruited species among seasons, years and sites. Functional Ecology 12, 683690.
Maron, J.L. and Simms, E.L. (2001) Rodent-limited establishment of bush lupine: field experiments on the cumulative effect of granivory. Journal of Ecology 89, 578588.
Moles, A.T. and Westoby, M. (2003) Latitude, seed predation and seed mass. Journal of Biogeography 30, 105128.
Muñoz Garmendia, F. and Navarro, C. (1998) Flora iberica: Plantas vasculares de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. Volume VI. Rosaceae. Madrid, Real Jardín Botánico (CSIC).
Myster, R.W. (2003) Effects of species, density, patch-type, and season on post-dispersal seed predation in a Puerto Rican pasture. Biotropica 35, 542546.
Norconk, M.A., Grafton, B.W., Conklin-Brittain, N.L. (1998) Seed dispersal by Neotropical seed predators. American Journal of Primatology 45, 103126.
Pflugshaupt, K., Kollmann, J., Fischer, M. and Roy, B. (2002) Pollen quantity and quality affect fruit abortion in small populations of a rare fleshy-fruited shrub. Basic and Applied Ecology 3, 319327.
Picó, F.X. and Retana, J. (2000) Temporal variation in the female components of reproductive success over the extended flowering season of a Mediterranean perennial herb. Oikos 89, 485492.
Rey, P.J., Garrido, J.L., Alcántara, J.M., Ramírez, J.M., Aguilera, A., García, L., Manzaneda, A.J., Fernández, R. (2002) Spatial variation in ant and rodent post-dispersal predation of vertebrate-dispersed seeds. Functional Ecology 16, 773781.
Schreiner, M., Bauer, E.-M. and Kollmann, J. (2000) Reducing predation of conifer seeds by clear-cutting Rubus fruticosus agg. in two montane forest stands. Forest Ecology and Management 126, 281290.
Smith, T.J., Chan, H.T., McIvor, C.C. and Robblee, M.B. (1989) Comparisons of seed predation in tropical, tidal forests from three continents. Ecology 70, 146151.
Sokal, R. and Rohlf, F.J. (1995) Biometry: The principles and practice of statistics in biological research (3rd edition). New York, W.H. Freeman.
Stoddart, D.M. and Smith, P.A. (1986) Recognition of odour-induced bias in the live-trapping of Apodemus sylvaticus. Oikos 46, 194199.
Thompson, J.N. (1999) Specific hypotheses on the geographic mosaic of coevolution. American Naturalist 153, S1S14
Tutin, T.G., Heywood, V.H., Burges, N.A., Moore, D.M., Valentine, D.H., Walters, S.M. and Webb, D.A. (1968, 1976) Flora Europaea. Volumes 2 and 4. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Valle, F., Gómez, F., Mota, F., Díaz, C. (1989) Parque Natural de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. Guía botánico-ecológica. Madrid, Editorial Rueda.
Wang, W., Ma, K.P., Gao, X.M. (2000) Spatial and temporal patterns of Quercus liaotungensis acorn predation by vertebrates in Dongling Mountain, Northern China. Acta Botanica Sinica 42, 289293.
Willson, M.F. and Whelan, C.J. (1990) Variation in post-dispersal survival of vertebrate-dispersed seeds: effects of density, habitat, location, season, and species. Oikos 57, 191198.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed